LDW Southwest Hiking Adventure – Part I

Tuesday evening situation : sitting in my home office with a sore body and an unpacked suitcase, editing the 500+ photos Trevor and I managed to rack up over the long holiday weekend. Friday – Monday situation : a hiking adventure of a lifetime (that I’m dying to share).

Labor Day Weekend

LDW — that 3-day weekend that you’re just ready for after a crazy, hectic summer. When the weddings, boating and barbecue days are finally winding down. When the sun waits a little bit longer to come up and decides to head back down a little early. When you realize Fall is right around the corner…

It’s funny how over the years plans for this weekend have changed. In college, it was all about Dave at the Gorge – the only place he played three nights in a row, “heaven’s amphitheater”. Post college was full of renting houses with big groups in Chelan or other lakes, trying to relive the glory days with drinking games and sun. But this time, we wanted to sprinkle in something a little different. Something not too expensive and not very boozy. An accessible adventure.

The Great Southwest

Trevor and I have always talked about going to visit the national parks together someday, since it’s something that’s so cool and not very far. We’ve been so focused on getting outside of the country recently, we decided to take advantage of what’s a short plane ride away — and landed on the Southwest.

Of course we’ve been to Vegas and Arizona, but Utah? Never have imagined. Until we realized it’s home to two of the most colorful national parks perfect for hiking and exploring: Zion & Bryce Canyon.

We planned this trip only a few weeks out and were able to keep the total cost for travel (plane + car) and lodging under $1K. Here’s the slide deck I created to plan (I like creating docs) and below is the itinerary for you to use and tweak as you like.

It was unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. And the thirty miles of hiking over three days felt pretty damn good too.

4-Day Adventure in Nevada, Arizona & Utah

Use Kayak or Hopper (or better yet points) to fly in and out of Las Vegas on the earliest flights out. This will allow for a full three days of exploring.

We arrived at McCarran at 9am. It was the perfect morning arrival that allowed us time to pick up the car and hit the road for a full first day ahead of exploring. Fly out of McCarran on the earliest flight on Day 4 as well.

Day 1  |  Road Trippin’ and Carb Loadin’
  • Arrive at McCarran airport by 9am
  • Pick up low-cost vehicle at preferred rental agency (we opted for the smallest economy car but they upgrades us to a larger Kia Soul which was money)
  • Load up on waters and snacks and hit the open road towards the Hoover Dam (40 min drive)
  • Spend a good 30 min at Hoover Dam parking and snapping pics. Don’t do the crowded tour, you have way more to see and your passenger can read the history of the dam to you in the car.

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  • Head towards Grapevine Mesa in Meadowview (1 hour 40 min drive). Upon arrival take in the Joshua Trees, soaring hawks and beautiful landscape around you. Pics!

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  • Navigate towards the Grand Canyon Skywalk (50 min drive). Note: this is a very touristy area, which we did not realize until arriving. You have to pay to enter to even see anything and the tour is 2 hours long. Looking back, we wish we would have driven the extra two hours to see the North or South Rim of the Grand Canyon, but were worried about making a dinner reservation. The views from Grapevine Mesa to Skywalk however were insane. We definitely saw the Grand Canyon. If you want to go in it, I suggest making the extra trip and skipping the next step, or planning a day there.
  • Jump back in the car and head towards Sin City (2 hour 30 min drive), where you’ll need to change to dinner attire in a parking lot outside the city before entering. We wanted Italian so had a reservation at Sinatra at the Wynn at 5:30pm. This allowed for drinks before, a long dinner and a departure not too late in the night.
  • Once you’ve had dessert and flagged the valet guy, it’s time for a late night drive to your home base for the next three days — St. George Utah (2 hour 30 min drive).
  • Arrive at super cute and cheap Airbnb. Go right to bed.
Day 2  |  Facing Fears in Zion
  • Wake up early and aim to leave the house and hit up the local grocery store by 8am.
  • Begin drive to Zion National Park (55 min drive)
  • Upon arrival, be prepared to pay for a 7 day wilderness pass or purchase the annual that covers all the national parks ahead of time.
  • Park as close to the park entrance as possible. We made the mistake of parking in Springdale and had to take two shuttles to get to the entrance. Not fun leaving. Lines on lines during this busy weekend.
  • Take the inner park shuttle to stop 6 – The Grotto – where you’ll follow the signs to Angel’s Landing Trail

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  • Marked a strenuous hike a little over 4 miles, this climb is worth it. At the top, you’ll experience the chance to hike across a narrow sandstone ridge. Luckily there are support chains because this ish gets scary!TGE-Zion-Angels-Landing TGE-Zion-Angels-Landing TGE-Zion-Angels-Landing
  • Our favorite part of this hike was the “wiggles” that add up to be around 27 switchbacks getting you up the mountain.
  • If you’re feeling energetic after scaling the narrow fin where angels are known to land, continue on following the signs to West Rim Trail. You can go for as long as you like and then head back upon running out of water. It’s worth the extra distance — lots of lighter stone with breathtaking views.

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  • After you’ve reached the end of the day hike, take the Zion Shuttle to stop 5 where there’s a beer garden. Grab a much deserved brew before you head back to the car.
  • Upon arriving home to St. George, make sure you take in the beautiful city.
  • Cook a nice meal in and enjoy some wine — but don’t forget to run to the liquor store that closes at 7pm!
  • Go to bed before 10pm!

 

Speaking of bed…

That’s all I’ve got for tonight peeps. Stay tuned for day 3 and 4 coming tomorrow!

// cb ✌🏼

 

3 Comments

  1. September 6, 2017 / 9:30 pm

    I absolutely love your travel posts — so many good tips!

  2. September 9, 2017 / 7:34 am

    Great List! I would however add OneDayTop to this list, which is an all-in-one social travel site that lets you and your friends plan vacations, weekends and evenings in one place. Not only that, you can get the cheapest fares from multiple sites and calculate trip expenses and make bookings from a single site, instead of wasting time comparing pricing across multiple sites. Check out the site on Travel and share your feedback.

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